We are at war and a passenger ship of American and British voyagers is torpedoed by a German Submarine and they are thrown together to survive. In the boat are a columnist Constance Porter (Tallulah Bankhead), the ships engineer Kovac (John Hodiak), Seaman Gus Smith (William Bendix), Radio Operator Stanley Garrett (Hume Cronyn), Nurse Alice Mackenzie (Mary Anderson), and others.
From the beginning there were problems with people and their ways. Take for instance Mrs. Higgins (Heather Angel) and her baby, now normally this wouldn't be a problem except the baby was dead. The group would eventually take the baby and bury it at sea. This was too much for the mother and when she had her chance she committed suicide.
The trouble begins when they come across a German sailor and pull him aboard. They call him Willy as he is not very forth coming with information. Kovak takes over control of the boat and will ration out the supplies they have to live on. It will be Willy who will later actually control what goes on. You see he has leadership abilities as he was the Submarine Commander that sunk them.
Arguments are all over the place. They discuss the war. They discuss religion. They discuss almost anything and everything just to pass the time. It is when Willy is found out to have a compass and that he was the Commander that sunk them that all begins to take shape.
You see survival was first on their mind but later it's pure hatred that motivates them. Willy has been steering them to a German supply ship that he was to meet. Along the way, they pick up a German sailor who happens to have a gun. When it is wrestled away from him is when the crew starts to make demands. They find out that Willy has been hoarding water from them and they force him overboard.
This story of survival is more than just that. It is a story of people. It is a story of how well and how badly we get along in times of desperation.
Director Alfred Hitchcock does a beautiful job with this one. The people involved are some of the best actors of the time. This is one of those movies that if you never have seen it then you must. Enjoy.